"Warm hands signify a warm heart," writes Candace Christiansen in her children's story, "The Mitten Tree." It is believed that this enchanting tale of generosity was the impetus in the formation of National Mitten Tree Day, which is now celebrated each Dec. 6.
Employees of Pratt & Whitney's Materials Control Laboratory had always been interested in a community service project, but with the logistics of the department, which has people stationed all over the country and around the world, a charitable endeavor wasn't something that they were able to easily accomplish.
"One day last fall, Justin Beacham and I were discussing community service again, and the idea of a Mitten Tree came up," explained Lynn Nelson. "It was something that could be contributed to by the entire department, even those in other states and oversees, and it was something that we hadn't seen done at Pratt before."
Between mittens and gloves donated by East Hartford Pratt & Whitney employees and those mailed in or purchased through other branches, a total of 146 pairs were collected.
"Some were donated from as far away as Taiwan and Korea, plus two hats and one scarf," said Nelson.
Materials Control Laboratory staff came together on Dec. 6, 2013 to assemble the tree while enjoying cookies and cocoa, making for a festive, warmhearted celebration.
"We ended up with more than double what we expected ... [and] we were able to collect mittens and gloves from infant sized to extra-large men's sizes and all sizes in between," noted Nelson.
The items were donated to the Marshall House Homeless Shelter in Hartford, Conn., an organization run by the Salvation Army for families in need.
"They were thrilled to get the mittens and gloves," said Nelson.
She added, "This was the first time we did this, but considering the success of the tree and the fact that practically everyone in the department, even those stationed elsewhere, contributed and really enjoyed it, it will probably be an annual event from now on."